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SDP’s Mabikke sued over change of party name

Accused of changing the party name, Michael Mabikke has been sued by four members of his Social Democratic Party (SDP).

The quartet accuses Mabikke of conniving with Henry Lubowa, the party’s secretary general, and the Electoral Commission to illegally change the party’s name to Party of National Unity. The complainants are Asea Azuma, Fred Kavuma, Ahmed Sserunjogi and Harriet Namujju.

In their suit, filed in the High court yesterday, they also claim that the respondents illegally changed the SDP constitution. They claim that on September 11, 2013, the party’s national council held a meeting at the Youth Sharing hall in Nsambya.

According to the complainants, the meeting discussed one thing: whether SDP should form a political alliance with another political party. They say the idea of an alliance was flatly rejected.

“The second respondent [Lubowa] with full knowledge and support of the first respondent [Mabikke] herein clandestinely and in contravention of the party constitution wrote to the secretary general of the Electoral Commission on October 17 2013 alleging that the party had passed a resolution to have the name of the party changed while on the contrary it was not on the agenda nor discussed by the said committee,” the plaint partly reads.

Through Ruhinda advocates and solicitors, the trio accuse the Electoral Commission of failing to carry out due diligence when it approved the name change at the end of September 2014.

They insist that the EC should have cross-checked whether it was the national delegates’ conference which sanctioned the change of the name since such powers reside with it.

“The first and second respondents contravened articles 2(1),71(1) and 72(2) of the Constitution of Uganda and the decision to change the party’s name to the Party of National Unity was arbitrary since it was executed by the first and second respondents in total disregard of Article 10(1) of the constitution,” they claim.

Consequently, they want court to declare that there is no party called Party of National Unity. They want the High court to order the third respondent [Electoral Commission] to strike out the name Party of    National Unity and restore the party’s name of Social Democratic Party.

They also want court to order all the respondents to pay exemplary damages for their failure to adhere to both the national constitution and SDP constitution.

Senior SDP leaders have backed former Vice-President Gilbert Bukenya to run as the party’s presidential candidate in 2016. But they have strongly rejected claims by other leaders, that the party was sold to Bukenya.

dkiyonga@gmail.com

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